After all this talk of good samaritanism, the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is “How do we get there?” I know I should be more rather than less like Jesus, which is different than being more or less like him. I know that I should be on an “Improving Samaritan” trajectory. I want to be the kind of selfless servant Jesus was, but how do I get there?
I’m not selfless by nature. I care mostly about myself, but if I’m “feeling it” and get a free moment or two I might stop and help someone, most typically someone who’s sort of like me. I prefer helping people who are like me, speak my language, and whose cultural ways are similar to mine. It’s a bonus if they don’t smell bad or have any objectionable idiosyncrasies. I know that’s not the way Jesus rolls, so how do I become more like him and less like me?
It’s definitely not going to happen just because I will it, at least it hasn’t so far. Knowing the right and even wanting the right doesn’t always lead to doing it. Sure, it begins with knowing and wanting to be better Samaritans, but sheer will power won’t get me there. My white-knuckle religious efforts have yielded very little character change. Sweaty spirituality doesn’t make us more like Jesus. Like any Jesus-like attitude, good samaritanism is developed only from the inside out.
Jesus didn’t come only to show us the way, but to be the way inside us. Sanctification is pretty much an inside job. He lived the way of the Ideal Samaritan in front of us and will, if we’ll cooperate, live this same way in and through us. He improves us by first setting an example for us from the outside and then by empowering us from the inside.
FYI, this is what sets him apart from all other supposed saviors of the world who can only do the first part – the outside example-setting part – at least in part. Jesus, on the other hand, is a live-in Savior. He lives in us, but not as a house guest that stays in his room, has no effect on the household, and about whom no one in the neighborhood knows he’s there! It’s our responsibility to “work out with fear and trembling” the good samaritanism that he “worked in us” (Philippians 2:13). The old saying is, “If it doesn’t show that’s all it is, a show!”
Don’t despair. The love he demonstrates to us and demands of us is the same divine love that he deposits in us. The burden of good samaritanism is light when we’re willing to let him steer us from the inside by the easy yoke.
Jesus, help us to be more, rather than less, like you as we follow you forward into an irreversible love for the Father and an irrepressible love for those who need it most!
One final piece of our talks on samaritanism – and I’ve saved the best for last – is how Good Samaritans influence others toward the “Ideal Samaritan.” See you then…
Oh, and by the way, if you hadn’t heard, I’m a grandpa of the cutest baby alive – Aria Joy Davis!!!